What are Phytonutrients?
Man if you typed in Phytonutrients and you spelled it correctly, your neck must be strong from holding up that large brain of yours. Bravo, smarty pants.
It’s not a word used often, but it will be, because people need to know about phytonutrients, soil depletion and why we just aren’t stocked full of the same healthy vitamins, minerals and nutrients we were 50 years ago.
What are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants. Also referred to as phytochemicals, plants need them for health protection. They are like little infantry soldiers. Some protect them against harmful insects and some protect them from natural elements that may cause damage.
They’re like a plant’s antioxidant system.
But, they don’t just protect plants. When we eat plant foods, we eat their phytonutrients.
*wipes drool from mouth*
When we masticate those magic nutrients, the protective power of the plants’ phytochemicals transfer to us. They provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can improve your health, immune system, and protect against those nasty free radicals that can cause so much damage to our bodies.
Some names we give to these plant chemicals include
- Chlorophyll (remember that from science class, huh?)
There are literally thousands. Those are just a few you may recognize.
A couple you may recognize are resveratrol and phenols. Major antioxidants that are often marketed as youth restoring or cancer fighting—for good cause.
Resveratrol is found in red wine and comes from grapes and some dark berries. It is well documented as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps reduce heart disease risks and cancers. It is often called the French Paradox because they drink a lot of red wine and have lower rates of heart disease.
Carotenoids are strong antioxidants and eye protectors. It also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and can be found in red and orange fruits and veggies.
Flavonoids are a huge group of phytonutrients. They are antioxidants, protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Studies show consumption of flavonoids are linked to longer lives. They can also be found in a vast array of fruits and veggies.
So, you kinda get where we’re going with these phytonutrients—they’re in fruits and veggies and they’re good for you. So why not just go get a veggie plate from your favorite restaurant and stock up on these life savers? Well….here comes the bad news…
The soil today just ain’t the same as it was in the old days. The soil was richer in vitamins and minerals and thus, so was the veggies and fruits grown in it.
Our modern methods in agriculture to make things grow faster has stripped the soil of nutrients as we increase the fruit and veggie resistance to pesticides.
A study reviewed the nutritional data from 1950-1999 of 43 different fruits and veggies. Declines were seen in tons of vitamins and minerals including protein, iron, vitamin A, B, C, E and more.
Another study between 1975 and 1997 showed calcium levels dropped 21 percent and vitamin C levels 30 percent. Iron levels plummeted 37 percent, vitamin A dropped 21 percent, and potassium 14 percent!
One study showed you’d have to eat 8 oranges to get the same vitamin A as our grandparents. EIGHT!
So why not just get what we’re missing out on from supplements?
Sheesh, we feel like bags of jerks today….because we have even MORE bad news.
Say it ain’t so!
Synthetic Nutrients Aren’t as Effective as Naturally Derived Phytonutrients
In a world where we care more about money than health, our soil shows it and our methods show it. Nearly 95 percent of all vitamins you buy are synthetic.
Well, if the guys in the white lab coats got the formula right, it should mimic natural vitamins, right?
A lot of the synthetic vitamins lack the cofactors and other important components of naturally occurring elements that provide the benefits we need. This is because the lab coat gang isolated only the vitamin or mineral. These versions of vitamins are not processed by the body the same way and as such, the body does not benefit the same way.
Synthetic nutrients also don’t have trace minerals needed to process them, which impacts your body’s reserves.
They are chemical compounds and not naturally derived.
Again, that’s around 95 percent of what is out there.
So what can you do?
Get Naturally Derived Vitamins and Minerals
Well, you’re off to a great start: education is the precursor to a plan.
Since we can’t control the soil, get vitamins that are naturally derived phytonutrients.
If they are, you won’t have a hard time determining it—the company should be labeling it so, since they are only 5 percent of the overall supplement market as natural nutrients.
While you’re marinating in all this mayhem, don’t forget that you’re using more nutrients and amino acids when you train. Don’t be like depleted soil—don’t lack the good stuff. Replenish your ‘soil’ with muscle-building supplements here.